The meaning of 5/10. "What is average"?


A few months back, my friends and I partook in a game (a rather masochistic game, might I add). One friend collected picture’s from each of us and asked girls on an app called “Wizz” to rate our appearance out of 10. The results were not surprising, if not less disheartening.

With few exceptions, my friends and I consistently got scores between 4-7.

I was, as you can imagine, a little bummed about this for a couple of days. I went into the experiment wanting to have some fun, but came out with a massive dose of reality.

But then it hit me. ~5/10? That’s average, is it not?

A tangent (I promise it’s important): Anime data basing websites have a perplexing score distribution. For instance, on myanimelist, a 5 is meant to be considered an “average” score, yet, the mean rating of all anime on the site is 6.46¹. How could this be?

I believe that the main cause of this phenomenon is the education system. In school, a 5/10 is not an indication of “average” performance, it is instead an indication of being on the cusp of failure. Therefore, by rating a show 5/10, you're not judging it as decent or average, you're actually assessing it as barely acceptable; a much more severe assessment.

~So maybe I should feel bad about that 5/10 rating!

Another explanation may reveal itself using the idea of the PDP (positive drive principle); The PDP states that people will do whatever they believe they will get the most happiness/enjoyment/satisfaction out of. It even explains activities which are not necessarily enjoyable, like working a job. You work your job because you believe you will be happier with the funds that job will accrue than without. According to this principle, watching an anime with a very low score is something that is unlikely to happen; Therefore, people will generally watch shows with higher scores rather than lower scores; Therefore, the mean score of all myanimelist users will tend towards higher scores.

So what can we learn from this? Perhaps the most important take-away is the power of association. The simple association between 5 and failure makes it an unthinkable choice for all but the minimum viable product.

Also, don’t give your friends goofy ass pictures of yourself to send to girls on Wizz. Also, don’t use Wizz.